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David O'Reilly
July 24, 2014 | David O'Reilly

Estate Planting at Union Gap Vineyard

We finally finished planting 21 acres of grapes at our Union Gap Estate in Yakima Valley.  In hindsight, this was an aggressive undertaking with challenging hillsides, warm temperatures, and soils consisting of cobblestones and larger boulders rather than dirt.   It’s interesting to train these young vines on metal rebar rather than the inexpensive bamboo that we normally use.  The metal was the only straight material that we could find that wouldn’t get beaten into bits when pounded into the rocks. 

In the photos below, our Vineyard Manager, Nacho Licea and Co-Owner, David O'Reilly, stand in the spot that is now planted to vineyard. This extremely rocky and windy site required careful planning in order to ensure a diverse, yet hard-working mix of varietals. Typically aggressive Rhone varietals; Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre will be forced to slow down in the harsh environment, resulting in premium wines with concentration and structure. In the south-facing slopes with more tilth, we chose to plant Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

The one block on top of this hill is the place that everyone stops to admire. The meter by meter high-density planting of Mourvèdre rests upon an old river bed known as the Ellensburg Formation with deep deposits of alluvial stones.  These rocks now contain vines slated to be an intense Rhone Blend.  The vines are to be head-pruned; there will be no trellis with wires; just the bush vines left to battle the severe landscape.  We anticipate this battle will lead to great things including intensity of flavor and character for our future estate wines. 



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